Sachin Pilot, Indian National Congress (INC) leader and rebel without a pause against Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, has been placated by making him a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — the party’s highest decision making body.
While, Congress President, Malikarjun Kharge has deftly deflected Pilot’s dissatisfaction and putative rebellion with the CWC berth, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan is caught in a bind over the problem of plenty in the state leadership.
It is an open secret in Rajasthan that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister, Amit Shah have a visceral dislike of Vasundra Raje, former Rajasthan CM.
Raje vs BJP?
The problem for the BJP central leadership is that Raje is the tallest party leader in Rajasthan and all attempts to prop up a new centre-backed leadership has failed.
Raje, despite being kept out of a new poll panel, has made it clear that she will call the shots, wants the top job again and will form a regional party if ignored by the BJP’s top brass.
Raje has been touring the state and meeting party workers on a quasi-religious tour she has undertaken and made it clear that the BJP workers must only support her.
The one thing Raje and Pilot have in common is that they have both resisted the top leadership’s efforts to make them leave Rajasthan politics.
Says a Pilot loyalist, “Gehlot did everything to ensure that Pilot’s rooted politics in Rajasthan is destroyed but Pilot made it clear to the Gandhi family that he would not leave Rajasthan and stay in contention for his dream job as CM Rajasthan”.
Similarly Raje was blunt in telling Shah that the only future she saw in BJP politics for herself was as Rajasthan’s mass leader and a permanent contender for the CM’s job.
Top priority: Modi 3.0
The BJP has made it clear to all the state units in the upcoming polls that elections will be fought in Modi’s name and no CM face will be projected. However, the Karnataka defeat where polls were fought in Modi’s name and the BJP got trounced has got the party rethinking.
The ambitious plans that Shah had to expand the BJP’s footprint pan India seems to have ground to a halt as the party now has a one point agenda the return of Prime Minister Modi for a third term.
Modi 3.0 is the top priority and the BJP’s focus has squarely shifted back to its bastion of Uttar Pradesh and north India. As of now the BJP appears impregnable in UP where Yogi Adityanath rules the roost in his second term.
The BJP’s top leadership is currently on a Yogi placation drive because the road to Delhi can only come from the 80 Lok Sabha seats that are overseen by Lucknow.
The BJP is also eyeing the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh and the central BJP is extremely keen that Shivraj Singh Chauhan, CM, ensures his level best to make the BJP win. This is a huge change from when Chauhan faced an uncertain future and was unlikely to become CM again if BJP won the assembly elections.
Vocal for local
Replacing B S Yediyurappa as CM in Karnataka with the lacklustre B S Bommai cost the BJP dear in the resounding Karnataka defeat.
In contrast, the Congress fought a “vocal for local” campaign and conflated corruption with the BJP government. The BJP’s two engine campaign — with Modi dominating the foreground — flopped.
So assiduously nurtured regional leaders created by Modi such as Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, union minister, Om Birla, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Ashwini Vaishnav, railway minister, will now have to wait for the baton to be handed over to them by Raje.
The same political signals are available in MP. Jyotiraditya Scindia, union minister for aviation is no closer to his dream job of becoming the state’s CM and neither are other claimants such as Kailash Vijayvargiya.
For once, the Congress has gotten its act together before the semi finals. However, the BJP is fast playing catch up.